It’s not too late to get your flu shot!

 Flu season has already begun, but it’s far from over. Did you forget to get a flu shot? Experts agree it’s better late than never. Especially considering the fact that February is the peak month of flu activity. 

There are many myths about the flu vaccine, with available information ranging from textbook-accurate to far-from-the-truth. Here’s what you need to know:

1. What is the flu shot?

A flu shot is a blend of three or four inactivated strains of the flu virus introduced an individual’s immune system to develop a resistance.  Because the virus is inactivated, you cannot contract the virus from the vaccine. 

2. Which type of vaccine should I get?

The type of vaccine you should receive is dependent on individual risk factors such as age and health. Your primary care physician can help you determine what type of vaccine is best for you. 

This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the live attenuate influenza vaccine (LAIV)—or “nasal spray” vaccine—should not be used during the 2016-17 season.

3. How effective is it?

Vaccination is the most effective method for reducing the risk of influenza transmission. Though the level of effectivity alters year to year, even in years of a bad match between vaccination and virus, the vaccination remains the best defense against the flu. 

4. What about the side effects?

For the vast majority of individuals, side effects may include temporary tenderness or mild swelling at the site of injection. While not common, some people may experience a slightly elevated temperature or soreness which quickly dissipates. Once again, because the virus is inactivated, you cannot contract the virus from the vaccine.

The CDC recommends that no one under the age of six months receives a vaccine. According to the CDC’s most recent guidelines, individuals with egg allergies should continue to get the flu shot so long as their history of reactions have been classified as mild. 

5. Should you get one?

The CDC recommends all individuals over the age of six months receive the injectable vaccine and forgo the nasal spray. You can get one anytime in the winter months. But act fast, the vaccine takes approximately two weeks to become effective and you don’t want to be caught without it. 

Clean Hands Save Lives

Though the CDC promotes the flu shot as the most significant protection against flu viruses, individuals should additionally make a point to wash their hands regularly.

Transmission of the flu virus does not only occur from coughing and sneezing, but more commonly through touching surfaces contaminated with the virus.

Here are some key times to wash your hands:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After touching garbage. 

For more information, please visit the CDC’s website.

By David Modica | Published December 21, 2016

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